Chris Roodbeen is best-known as a prominent Dutch courtroom sketch artist since the 1970s, but he began his career as a cartoonist, illustrator and comic artist for newspapers and magazines. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in his hometown Rotterdam, and subsequently worked as an illustrator and graphic designer for advertising agencies. Between 1958 and 1963 he was one of the regular comic artists for Olidin, a promotional magazine for petrol company Shell, which was produced by the Van Maanen advertising agency. He drew six stories of the Arabian hero 'Ahmed' between 1958 and 1961, followed by the balloon comic 'De Roemrijke Avonturen van Papom' in 1962-63. Also for Olidin, Roodbeen illustrated short historical stories and gag strips. Other Rotterdam-based artists who worked for Olidin through Van Maanen were Jan Kruis and Jan van der Voo.
Roodbeen's illustrations appeared in magazines like Margriet and local newspapers like Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad and Haagsche Courant, while he made political cartoons for Elsevier. In the 1970s, Roodbeen made comic strips and drawings for the Malmberg school magazines Okki, Taptoe and especially Jippo, for which he illustrated the welcome pages. He also provided illustrations for educational publications by the publishing house Wolters-Noordhoff.
He began working as a courtroom sketch artist with the Haagsche Courant in the 1970s, and drew exclusively for daily newspaper De Telegraaf from 1981 until his death in 2017. Since photographers are not allowed in Dutch courtrooms, newspapers and press agencies often send sketch artists to make an artistic impression. Other famous Dutch courtroom artists are Aloys Oosterwijk and Felix Guérain. Roodbeen was known for his detailed portraits, which had the right balance between a neutral realistic view of the situation, and the characteristics which reflect the mood and character of the accused. Among his best-known sketches are from the Heineken kidnappers Willem Holleeder and Cor van Hout, master crook Heer Olivier, gypsy king Koko Petalo, right-wing politician Geert Wilders, heavyweight kickboxer Badr Hari and nurse Lucia de B. From December 2016 through March 2017, an exposition of his courtroom artwork was held at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam.
Roodbeen remained active until three weeks before his death, the final years of his career mostly in association with journalist Saskia Belleman. One of his final drawings was of Bart van U., the murderer of former minister Els Borst. He passed away after a short illness on 10 April 2017, shortly after his 87th birthday. Chris Roodbeen lived and worked in Woudrichem.
The Heineken kidnappers Willem Holleeder and Cor van Hout in January 1987